Rachel Perigo of Feilding was delighted to take home a gold Masters Games medal after competing in the open water swimming event in the Whanganui River last week.
"It's a mental game and it was all about telling my brain to tell my arms to keep moving," said Ms Perigo.
It was her first time competing at the Masters Games and her first open water event.
The 36-year-old teacher also competed in pool swimming and the women's individual triathlon.
"It was the open water swim that I was most apprehensive about but I enjoyed it so much, I will be coming back for the Bridge to Bridge swim next month.
"Each swimmer had a kayak assigned to support us in the water and your supporters can walk along the riverside as well."
Ms Perigo said her partner was also here for the Masters Games, competing with his football team.
"He had wandered down to the river and was walking along the bank while I was swimming but I didn't realise.
"You can't really see people with your goggles on but it's nice to know someone is there walking alongside."
Ms Perigo, along with her Feilding whanau and friends, is in training for the national Iron Maori contest in November and says the Whanganui River is an ideal place to train.
"I can ride my bike anywhere but you can't really train for open water swimming in a pool.
"It's about gaining that confidence with being in the open water and building strength."
Ms Perigo said she loved the atmosphere of the Masters and looks forward to participating at the next Games.
"I enjoyed coming to support my partner at the 2015 games and being a competitor is great.
"I'd like to get a hockey team together for next time and enjoy being a team competitor."
The multisport Bridge to Bridge race will be held in Whanganui on March 11.